By David T. Reid
My brothers and sisters, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of my experiences. It is difficult to express on paper my emotions and feelings as a child of God living in these latter-days.
I live not far from Palmyra, New York and have traveled there many times. Each time I visit the historic sites it is with sincere inward reflection upon my heart. It may be hard for others to understand why an excommunicated LDS member would even make the journey. It is simply because I find peace and love in the sacred grove.
There have been times when I have entered the sacred grove where there are no other visitors or missionaries on site. In those moments, I have knelt down to pray to our Heavenly Father with real intent of receiving His word through the power of the Holy Ghost; and nonetheless, I can humbly state that He has never left me to be alone.
It is an odd situation during those times that the missionaries are on site. Normally the missionaries ask everyone where they are from and if they are they LDS members. This is especially the case when visiting the Smith’s family log cabin as the rooms are very small and tight quarters. For myself, I feel right at home. However, it creates an environment perplexing to the missionaries when I announce that I once was a member, but now I am not. I am sure they must question the spirit of what that means to our Heavenly Father, because I can sense it from their puzzled stares. Usually the room becomes silent and the crowd moves on to the next room. Sometimes, I have a private moment with the missionaries to explain my situation. I am sure it becomes more perplexing to them when I explain to them that it is by the request of our Heavenly Father that I not be a member.
Why would God ask someone not to be a member? It is purely the fact that our Heavenly Father wants me to have time to heal those wounds to my soul. My spirit leaps in knowing that He will not abandon me like so many who have done so throughout my life. Because of that, I have suffered great sadness and sorrow almost to the point of putting in jeopardy my own salvation. Like those who are blessed by the laying on of hands when they are sick, I have been blessed by our Heavenly Father that I suffer no more burden due to the dejection from my own brothers. That I carry not their yoke upon my shoulders due to its hurt and pain, but allow Him carry it for me. This I know my brothers and sisters is the power of our Heavenly Father’s love for each one of us. If I could stand on every mountain top and in every valley below, I would testify out loud to the world in all places that we are loved. We are loved more than we can ever imagine within our hearts and minds. Love that is even greater than the power of all the suns, stars, and space combined together in the heavens.
As I reflect back to the time of my excommunication, it was a whirlwind of emotions caught up in a web created by good meaning people in believing that they were doing the right thing in the eyes of God. Because of their ignorance in understanding my plight they created an environment that was unfriendly and unwelcoming. Too many times I heard it said, “Hate the sin not the sinner.” Unfortunately, it is difficult for some to separate the two. As human beings we find it easier to label others we don’t understand rather than invest ourselves in learning the truth about one another. In the end, the leadership of the church knew very well what would happen to me. They gave me three options: number one, I could change my homosexuality; number two, I could commit suicide and end my life; number three, I could remove myself from its membership. As a gay Mormon, I tried to change my homosexuality to appease the church. Then I tried to end my life a number of times during my teenage years; and nevertheless, when those attempts were unsuccessful, the church removed me from its membership. What does this teach? It does not show compassion or empathy for our brothers and sisters. It teaches that it is okay to throw away us children of God than listen to the words of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who was sent by our Heavenly Father because He loved us all.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
These things I write, humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Mr. Reid was a very active member of the Cortland, New York branch. Originally his family came from Syracuse, New York where his mother joined the church in the early 1960’s. His ancestral background is tied to Scottish, Jewish, and possibly Native American Indian roots. His ancestors’ settled in upstate New York where they once operated the Salt Mines near Onondaga Lake; and nonetheless, they patriotically fought alongside George Washington in The Revolutionary War. Throughout David’s life he has been personally touched by the life and works of Joseph Smith Jr. So much so, that he has visited the majority of historic sites where Joseph Smith lived like his birthplace, family home, and cabin in Palmyra, New York. David lives only a few minutes away from the Susquehanna River where Joseph meant his wife Emma Hale in Afton [Formed from Bainbridge], New York. Mr. Reid has performed temple work in Washington, DC and has had the honor of attending the open house of the Hill Cumorah Temple. David wasn’t baptized until the age of ten by instruction from church leadership. Since the age of ten, Mr. Reid has been writing poetry and short stories for almost forty years. His works have been nationally published in periodicals and books.